Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Black Muslim Religion, the Black Male and the Christian Church

The horrendous social and economic conditions of African American young men in America must be a cause for deep concern for Christians, especially for those in the urban areas of our nation. Many are alienated from the churches in their communities, which is a great tragedy for the Black American family and community. Historically and currently these conditions have provided an opening for the Muslim religion, especially the Nation of Islam, (the Black Muslim religion), to make inroads into the Black American community. It appears that Islam attracts and influence Black American men more than any other religion in America. Jonah Blank noted that,

 Five to six million strong, Muslims in America already outnumber Presbyterians, Episcopalians, and Mormons, and they are more numerous than Quakers, Unitarians, Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Christian Scientists, combined. Many demographers say Islam has overtaken Judaism as the country's second-most commonly practiced religion; others say it is in the passing lane.[1]

Black Americans make up about 42 percent of the American Muslim population and the Nation of Islam, (the Black Muslim religion), has a significant influence within the Black American community. An analysis of the Nation of Islam’s role towards Black American men will provide some answers to this phenomenon.

The socioeconomic conditions, the history of the Black American experience and the role of the church in addressing these issues may help explain the significantly lower church membership of Black American men relative to women. Noted educational consultant and author, Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu, reported to ministers at the Texas Black Baptist Fellowship's sixth annual conference in Houston that 

"the percentage of Black-American females in church is roughly equal to the percentage of Black American males in mosques".[2] 

The low attendance of Black males was not always the case. Black men were very involved in the church of early generations of the "Black Church" in America. Note that the origin of most "Black Churches" was due to the fact that the majority of "white" American churches rejected former black slaves after the end of slavery. The church sowed a bad seed as a part of the untold and sordid history of the American church. This was the origin of how the "white church" mainly contributed to the formation of the "black church" - a uniquely sad American phenomenon. "Herbert Tollor observed the following:

In earlier generations, black men were much more involved in the church, and their religious faith bolstered their commitment to families and neighborhoods. The most effective way to reduce black crime, and to strengthen black families, may be to return African-American men to their spiritual roots.[3]

Today the Christian Church must understand the reasons and find remedies to this challenge. In addition, in this climate of political correctness, it seems that many churches are a bit off balance by focusing much more on personal spiritual growth and development at the expense of social and community responsibility. Many in the community believe that the Black Muslim religion has the answer to these socioeconomic and moral problems facing young Black-American males. The Christian Church must find answers to the following questions. What are the fundamental reasons for this phenomenon? Can the Nation of Islam save the Black American youth? Is the Christian church marginalized in this process? What can the Christian Church do to improve its approaches to these problems and attract Black American males? Can the American church dispel the impression that equates "Christianity" with "European or white culture"? Is the American church (i.e. "mostly "white churches") afraid to address issues like white supremacy, racial discrimination and economic bias? When will the American church dispel the notions of "black church" and "white church" for the sake of unity of the body of Christ as the Apostle Paul describes in Ephesians 4:11-13.

The answers to these questions have serious implications and consequences for the Christian Church and the role Black American males play in them. What do you think?

[1] Jonah Blank,  “The Muslim Mainstream Islam Is Growing Fast In America, And Its Members Defy Stereotypes,” U.S. News & World Report, [20 July, 1998] 11.
[2] Camp, Ken. “Turning Points: Why Black Men Won’t go to Church.” The Baptist Standard;  [29 July 1998] : 16.
[3] Toller Jr., Herbert H. “Fisher of Men.” Policy Review Online, No. 72. [Hoover Institution of Stanford University. Spring 1995] : 33.